How YouTube’s ‘Watch on’ Button Could Change Video Embeds

The new icon is in the bottom corner of an embedded video

Key Takeaways

  • YouTube has been testing a new "Watch on YouTube" button in embedded players.
  • This new push could result in website owners looking into other video-sharing options.
  • Ultimately, YouTube seems to be approaching the new feature smartly, even providing users a way to turn it off when embedding videos.
The logos of YouTube, Gmail, Drive, and more Google apps are displayed on the screen of an iPhone
Chesnot / Getty Images

YouTube’s recent testing of a more noticeable "Watch on YouTube" button on video embeds could lead to bigger implications for the website and its users, experts say.

YouTube users recently started seeing a "Watch on YouTube" button on embedded video players. This icon, which appears in the bottom corner of a video embed, allows users to click through and continue watching on YouTube itself. By adding a more noticeable button, experts believe YouTube is pushing more users to click through from the embedded site to YouTube proper.

"This is a natural move for YouTube," Ed Laczynski, CEO of Zype, told Lifewire via email. "YouTube needs to create growth like any other web company, and converting viewers from 'free riders; like website publishers (who don’t pay to use the players, content, hosting, or streaming) is one way to do that."

Increasing Click-Through

The "Watch on YouTube" button isn’t a new feature entirely. Previously, users could select the YouTube logo, which was usually situated in the bottom right corner of the player. When this wasn’t available, you could also select the video’s title to go directly to YouTube and watch the video. Now, though, YouTube is calling more attention to the matter with a button that appears in the bottom left-hand corner of the video player.

While the new button isn’t massive on the video, Laczynski says it could lead to more websites relying less on YouTube, especially if it means their usual audience is clicking through to YouTube and leaving their site behind too often.

"Assuming the conversion rate back to YouTube will be higher than it is today," Laczynski said, "those are less customers staying 'on site,' as well as being prompted with competitive offerings that are likely to be shown on ads or related content on YouTube once the viewer navigates there."

"This is a natural move for YouTube. YouTube needs to create growth like any other web company."

This is important to make note of because it could mean we start to see less and less reliance on YouTube as a video player on many websites, which could make it more difficult for users to find new and relevant content. Where you could previously watch a video and then click-through to YouTube to see other recommendations, you’d simply be stuck with whatever other videos the website’s built-in video player had to offer.

Pushing website users away from utilizing YouTube embeds could have further implications for content creators who rely on embeds to help push new viewers to their content. We already see many gaming websites embed video reviews, guides, and other videos from YouTubers, something that could change if YouTube's new button becomes a problem for those websites.

Noisy Neighbors

Over the years, YouTube has introduced a number of features to the YouTube video player. Things like annotations and badges are key ways that creators can push viewers to check out their other content. This all creates more noise within the video player, and by making a dedicated button that pushes users to watch the video on YouTube, the site, itself, is only adding even more distractions to the screen.

Of course, YouTube isn’t the first site to move towards a more intrusive embedded player. Twitch recently began to make changes to its video embeds, even going so far as to add a screen-blocking purple screen that warns users they aren’t getting the full Twitch experience. This has garnered quite a bit of backlash, and is no doubt something YouTube will want to avoid if it continues pushing its "Watch on YouTube" feature.

YouTube's own channel on YouTube.com with a 'Celebrating Black Creativity' banner

It’s not at all surprising to see YouTube and Twitch trying to push more users to their sites, however, especially when considering various features like comments, likes, and subscriptions. Creating a longer-lasting relationship with viewers is what helps these sites grow and expand, and can help foster an even better user environment filled with more content for everyone to enjoy.

Thankfully, YouTube’s solution isn’t nearly as noisy as Twitch’s, nor is it as distracting. It also looks like YouTube has created some special parameters you can use to remove the additional branding, so the video sharing site already appears to be learning from the mistakes made by others.

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